Publication in: Fall 2023 Issue

Mental Illness and Misogyny in the Presence of Power: An Analysis of Sympathetic Portrayals of Lady Macbeth
Noelle Lambert
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Faculty Mentor(s):
Renuka Gusain
Abstract / Summary:
Lady Macbeth is one of the most prolific Shakespearean characters, so much so that the discussions regarding the play—named after her husband—are dominated by analyses of her actions, motivations, and influence on the literary world, particularly the role of the “evil queen”. I, following in the footsteps of the literary critics before me, will be assessing the relationship between Lady Macbeth’s role and presence in the play, including how it is adapted, and the larger ideological implications of her role in society as a woman who comes into power. I will discuss gender theory in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Shakespeare's use of women in tragedy as well as how this use and treatment is adapted in a variety of other sources. I will be analyzing adaptations that portray Lady Macbeth in a sympathetic light, interpreting the source material in a way that highlights her struggles and motivations beyond the surface level of apathetic ambition and greed. These adaptations include the 2015 stage production from Tara Arts and various films: Men of Respect (1991), Scotland, PA (2001), Maqbool (2003), and Macbeth (2015).
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